“I will—just observe to you that there is nothing clandestine in the matter. I came here in a carriage, with servants in the livery of my excellent mistress, Mdlle. de Cardoville, charged by her, without any disguise or mystery, to deliver a letter to Prince Djalma, her cousin,” replied Dupont, with dignity.
On these words, Faringhea trembled with mute rage, as he answered: “And why, sir, come at this late hour, and introduce yourself by this little door?”
“I came at this hour, my dear sir, because such was Mdlle. de Cardoville’s command, and I entered by this little gate because there is every reason to believe that if I had gone around to the other I should not have been permitted to see the prince.”
“You are mistaken, sir,” replied the half-caste.
“It is possible: but as we knew that the prince usually passed a good portion of the night in the little saloon, which communicates with the greenhouse, and as Mdlle. de Cardoville had kept a duplicate key of this door, I was pretty certain, by taking this course, to be able to deliver into the prince’s own hands the letter from Mdlle. de Cardoville, his cousin, which I have now had the honor of doing, my dear sir; and I have been deeply touched by the kindness with which the prince deigned to receive me and to remember our last interview.”
“And who kept you so well informed, sir, of the prince’s habits?” said Faringhea, unable to control his vexation.
“If I have been well informed as to his habits, my dear sir, I have had no such correct knowledge of yours,” answered Dupont, with a mocking air; “for I assure you that I had no more notion of seeing you than you had of seeing me.”
So saying, M. Dupont bowed with something like mock politeness to the half-caste, and got into the carriage, which drove off rapidly, leaving Faringhea in a state of the utmost surprise and anger.
The morning after—Dupont’s mission to Prince Djalma, the latter was walking with hasty and impatient step up and down the little saloon, which communicated, as we already know, with the greenhouse from which Adrienne had entered when she first appeared to him. In remembrance of that day, he had chosen to dress himself as on the occasion in question; he wore the same tunic of white cashmere, with a cherry-colored turban, to match with his girdle; his gaiters, of scarlet velvet, embroidered with silver, displayed the fine form of his leg, and terminated in small white morocco slippers, with red heels. Happiness has so instantaneous, and, as it were, material an influence upon young, lively, and ardent natures, that Djalma, dejected and despairing only the day before, was no longer like the same person. The pale, transparent gold of his complexion was no longer tarnished by a livid hue. His large eyes, of late obscured like black diamonds by a humid vapor, now shone with mild radiance in the centre of their pearly setting; his lips, long pale, had recovered their natural color, which was rich and soft as the fine purple flowers of his country.